Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Random Acts of Kindness

During the week that Doug was gone, Kate and I went to Trader Joe's one day. It was promising to be beastly hot, so I wanted to get it done early, but Kate was fractious and I, feeling harried and apparently more scatterbrained than usual, left the house without my debit card. I did not realize this until later, of course. We got to Trader Joe's and did our shopping--ran into Jessica from church and her kids, and said hi--then we got up to the checkout line and as the cashier was ringing up my stuff it suddenly hit me. That awful realization: Oh no! My card is in my other pants! Aaaaargh!

I reluctantly pictured dragging Kate all the way home and back again (nap time was fast approaching) and then I remembered Jessica. After a quick consultation with the cashier I ran and found Jessica (fortunately they were not very busy and there wasn't anyone waiting behind me at that point) and asked her if she would be able to cover me and I'd pay her back later that day. Jessica was agreeable, so we went back up to the register together, only to discover that the cashier on the next lane had paid for me. Seventeen dollars, minus some change. I was astounded. My cashier said, "Isn't Dagmar awesome? I think I owe her about two grand by now." As I stood there gaping and stammering, Dagmar waved it aside and said, "No no, it's good. Seriously. I'm a mom." I asked about her schedule for the day, so I could bring her the money, and she said, "You can pay me back, or just do something nice for somebody else." She told me she was going to Oregon for the weekend but would be back after that.

I drove home feeling rather stunned. I've had experiences, at times, of having someone there to help me right when I needed something, and I've felt blessed and grateful. Little things, usually. Never a complete stranger to the tune of seventeen dollars. I decided to make Dagmar a card to give her along with the money. She struck me as something of an artistic, free-spirit type (she had long dreadlocks adorned with big ceramic beads) so I thought she might appreciate something like that.

It took me a few days before I got the card done, what with one thing and another (Kate wanted to help, which was not helpful). I put the money inside and wrote her a little note, and wrapped it up pretty. I called to see if Dagmar was working, and we went down to give it to her. She loved the card (said I really didn't have to pay her back), got a hug, and then as I was trying to tell her how much I appreciated it I got all teary-eyed and she said, "Aww! Give me another hug!" When we left she said, "You made me happy! Thank you!"

The funny thing is that when I handed Dagmar the card she had no idea what it was for, and when I reminded her about what she'd done she said, "Oh! That was you?" I honestly think that if I hadn't paid her back she wouldn't have thought of it again. How many people would do something like that for someone they'd never met? I'll think of Dagmar next time I'm able to help out someone who needs a hand. In the economics of kindness, it's a gain to be able to pay it back and pay it forward.

7 comments:

Mimi said...

That's so awesome! What a lovely act of kindness and the card is beautiful!

Julie K in Taiwan said...

That's an amazing story. I got teary eyed reading it! Beautiful card, and I also enjoyed your discovery layout. Thanks for sharing.

Freer Family said...

That is so sweet, I'm glad there are still Dagmar's out there in this crazy world! Your thank you card is lovely.

Janelle said...

Wow, that really touched my heart. What a lovely person she must be!

Amy Sorensen said...

Sniff. What an awesome experience!!!

Jenny said...

WOW, Helena, what a great story! Now we need to pay it forward! I will strive to do so all week, thank you! And thank you for reminding me that I need to check out Trader Joe's someday. And I've heard good things about Tacoma boys too.

Anonymous said...

Loved the story; I want to be like Dagmar!